'There's something wonderful about writing when there's snow. It deadens sound and blankets everything with clean lines. It clears out the mind and makes the world a hushed, waiting space to fill with words.'
'Writers must cast aside whichever exciting project they are now working on to go back in time, just as the reader is taking the book forward into their lives. Pity the poor writer who struggles to remember why they wrote the book in the first place. '
'Knowing your own best work rhythms will save you both from making excuses, and from expecting too much of yourself at the wrong moment. You will learn to identify quite distinct phases; when you are on song as opposed to merely competent. '
'What genre would Shakespeare be? His works contain horror, history, myth, fantasy, ghosts, crime. Dickens, too. I always have a Dickens on the go, and dip in just as I would a giant bag of pick and mix. I want a novel to have it all; why not?'
'I stopped to smoke a cigarette, talking aloud to myself in a near-fury that I had a commission waiting for me and no pitch to make, nothing to inspire the officer that she had done the right thing awarding money to a man who'd never written a play. '
'Writing often has to come second place to the work that has more immediate returns. I learned very early on as a self-employed freelancer that the answer to ‘Can you do this paid work?’ is always ‘Yes’. That ethos has stood me in good stead.'
'There was actual advice but the real, unspoken advice was that they were all there. All doing it. It struck me when I came down for breakfast the following morning that there was nothing to stop me from joining them at their metaphorical table.'
'The writers that grab me these days are those who pull and push not only at the limits of language but at those of form. Lydia Davis takes the already chameleon short story and whittles it down to single paragraphs, stacking sentences into collages. '
'On that rainy afternoon in O’Connell Building, surrounded by my classmates, my love of drama ignited. You tasked us with devising a dramatic scene: recreating Joan of Arc’s last night on Earth. Maybe some of her rubbed off on me that afternoon.'
'I watched my new desk from my bed as its surface got covered with more and more piles of paper and books, and of course, I found myself using it almost… never. Eventually, I ditched the fantasy that the desk would make me more professional.'